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A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on Food Labelling for Environmental Sustainability: Attitudes, Perceived Barriers, and Solution Approaches towards the “Traffic Light Index”

1
Sustainability Strategy at Accenture GmbH, 10117 Berlin, Germany
2
School of Business and Economics, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 933; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020933
Received: 7 December 2020 / Revised: 10 January 2021 / Accepted: 11 January 2021 / Published: 18 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
The so-called “Traffic Light Index” (TLI) is a meta-sustainability label aimed at condensing the information provided by existing sustainability labels into an overarching message on food products’ environmental footprints. Such an overarching message is critical to reduce the confusion caused by existing labels and to foster more sustainable dietary habits among consumers. While research shows that the TLI is a viable and effective choice, its actual development and implementation are impeded by debates between relevant stakeholders in the European food system. This study examines those debates and adopts a multi-stakeholder perspective to address the following question: How do different stakeholder groups involved in the discussion towards a meta-sustainability label inhibit the adoption of the TLI label? Exploratory interviews with representatives from non-governmental organizations, social enterprises, academia, multi-national corporations, and governmental organizations show that each stakeholder group (1) adopts either optimistic or skeptical attitudes towards the TLI label, (2) perceives different types and magnitudes of barriers to its adoption (i.e., cognitive, methodological, and processual), and (3) proposes solutions to overcome those barriers that are either of an entrepreneurial or risk-averse nature. Findings further reveal that multi-stakeholder interactions influence attitudes and thereby inhibit or favor TLI adoption. Hence, entrepreneurial (vs. risk-averse) solutions proposed by optimistic (vs. skeptical) stakeholders may alter the attitudes of skeptical (vs. optimistic) stakeholders and the barriers they perceive to TLI adoption. By responding to calls for holistic approaches towards food labelling, our study shows how the diversity of stakeholders’ perceptions towards the TLI inhibits its adoption. We propose a theoretical framework and a set of propositions that can serve as springboards for policy ideas to propel progress in food labelling for environmental sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainability; eco-labelling; food; traffic light index; multi-stakeholder perspective sustainability; eco-labelling; food; traffic light index; multi-stakeholder perspective
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MDPI and ACS Style

Gröfke, N.; Duplat, V.; Wickert, C.; Tjemkes, B. A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on Food Labelling for Environmental Sustainability: Attitudes, Perceived Barriers, and Solution Approaches towards the “Traffic Light Index”. Sustainability 2021, 13, 933. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020933

AMA Style

Gröfke N, Duplat V, Wickert C, Tjemkes B. A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on Food Labelling for Environmental Sustainability: Attitudes, Perceived Barriers, and Solution Approaches towards the “Traffic Light Index”. Sustainability. 2021; 13(2):933. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020933

Chicago/Turabian Style

Gröfke, Nathalie, Valérie Duplat, Christopher Wickert, and Brian Tjemkes. 2021. "A Multi-Stakeholder Perspective on Food Labelling for Environmental Sustainability: Attitudes, Perceived Barriers, and Solution Approaches towards the “Traffic Light Index”" Sustainability 13, no. 2: 933. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020933

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